Game Theory

In Our Time | 10 May 2012 | 0h 41m | Listen Later | iTunes
Discusses game theory, the mathematical study of decision-making, which entails devising ‘games’ to simulate situations of conflict or cooperation. It allows researchers to unravel decision-making strategies, and even to establish why certain types of behaviour emerge. Game theory is now a vital tool in fields such as evolutionary biology, economics, computing and philosophy.

Fungi

In Our Time | 15 February 2018 | 0h 48m | Listen Later  | iTunes
Discusses fungi: organisms which are not plants or animals but a kingdom of their own. The millions of species of fungi play a crucial role in ecosystems, enabling plants to obtain nutrients and causing material to decay. Without fungi, life as we know it simply would not exist. They also make possible the production of bread, wine and certain antibiotics.

The Bronze Age Collapse

In Our Time | 16 June 2016 | 0h 47m | Listen Later  | iTunes
Discusses the Bronze Age Collapse, the sudden, uncontrolled destruction of dominant civilisations around 1200 BC in the Aegean, Eastern Mediterranean and Anatolia. Explores potential reasons for the collapse including droughts, rebellions, the breakdown of trade as copper became less desirable, earthquakes, invasions, volcanoes and the mysterious Sea Peoples.

The Thirty Years War

In Our Time | 6 December 2018 | 0h 50m | Listen Later  | iTunes
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the war in Europe which began in 1618 and continued on such a scale and with such devastation that its like was not seen for another three hundred years. It pitched Catholics against Protestants, Lutherans against Calvinists and Catholics against Catholics across the Holy Roman Empire, drawing in their neighbours. Many more civilians died than soldiers, and famine was so great that even cannibalism was excused.

Clausewitz and On War

In Our Time | 17 May 2012 | 0h 42m | Listen Later  | iTunes
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss “On War,” a treatise on the theory and practice of warfare written by the Prussian soldier and intellectual Carl von Clausewitz. Informed by Clausewitz’s experience in the Napoleonic wars, the work looks not just at the practicalities of warfare, but offers a subtle philosophical analysis of the nature of war and its relationship with politics. Its influence is felt today not just on the battlefield but also in politics and business.

The Iliad

In Our Time | 14 September 2018 | 0h 48m | Listen Later  | iTunes
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the great epic poem attributed to Homer, telling the story of an intense episode in the Trojan War. It is framed by the wrath of the Greek hero Achilles, insulted by his leader Agamemnon and withdrawing from the battle that continued to rage, only returning when his close friend Patroclus is killed by the Trojan hero Hector.

Photosynthesis

In Our Time | 15 May 2014 | 0h 46m | Listen Later  | iTunes
Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss photosynthesis, the process by which green plants and many other organisms use sunlight to synthesise organic molecules. Photosynthesis arose very early in evolutionary history and has been a crucial driver of life on Earth. In addition to providing most of the food consumed by organisms on the planet, it is also responsible for maintaining atmospheric oxygen levels, and is thus almost certainly the most important chemical process ever discovered.

Echolocation

In Our Time | 21 June 2018 | 0h 51m | Listen Later  | iTunes
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss how some bats, dolphins and other animals emit sounds at high frequencies to explore their environments, rather than sight. Bats that echolocate have a range of frequencies for different purposes and techniques for preventing themselves from becoming deafened by their own sounds. Some prey have evolved ways of detecting when bats are emitting high frequencies in their direction, and some fish have adapted to detect the sounds dolphins use to find them.